2013 International Aquatic Fitness Conference

Stephanie Thielen

I love aqua fitness. My career started off teaching land fitness, but over the years I have made my way into the world of aquatics and now consider myself a “turf and surf” instructor. As a land instructor there are many conference opportunities to take part in and almost every month of the year you can find an event to attend; IDEA World, SCW, DCAC to name of few. As an aquatic instructor, I could usually find a few classes at some of the larger conferences, but the conference itself did not lend to specific research or education for the aquatic professional.

Then I found the Aquatic Exercise Association.

AEA is the leader in worldwide aquatic education. AEA has been around since 1984, has certified over 50,000 instructors worldwide and will be celebrating 30 years in 2014. The company provides aquatic certification and numerous continuing education courses keeping up with the latest aquatic research and fitness trends. For the past 26 years, AEA has put on an aquatic event that in my opinion, is one of the best fitness conferences of the year. If you are just a newbie in the world of aquatics or have made your career from aqua fitness, trust me, all are welcome at the International Aquatic Fitness Conference.

In short, IAFC is fun, sun, and swimsuits for an entire week! Oh yes, and let’s not forget the amazing national and international presenters, attendees that represent 30-35 countries worldwide, and innovative aquatic programming, in which every year, I ask myself, “how are the presenters going to top that next year?”

This year the IAFC was held at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida. Highlights from this event include:
• 4 outdoor pools for aquatic sessions
• All attendee BBQ
• All attendee lunch (what other conference offers attendees food!)
• Global Awards Luncheon
• All attendee themed dance party and dinner. This year the theme was Caddy Shack meets the 80’s.
• Grand Finale pool sessions with top presenters
• KPH 50/50 raffle. This raffle is in honor on an AEA trainer who passed away from cancer. ½ the money goes to the KPH fund and the other half goes to a lucky winner. This year, the raffle made $2,326, with the winner donating her winnings back to the KPH fund.

There are so many courses to choose from, but I promise, whatever you take will not disappoint. Like others, I have my favorite “must see” presenters, but I make an effort to dabble into all the facets of aquatic training. With that said, these courses were the highlight of my IAFC experience.

Hydrorider: I LOVE aquatic cycling. It’s pretty simple, you just plop the bike in the pool and ride away. This is one of the most challenging aquatic classes for me. Cardio and leg training like nobody’s business. There are no bikes where I live so registering for a session is a must to satisfy my two loves: cycling and aqua all in one. Hydrorider also makes an aquatic treadmill. Combine the two and it is aquatic cardio at its finest.

AcquaPole: Yes, you read it correctly. This is a pole in the pool. AcquaPole was THE session to attend. This was the most fun I have had in a long time. Completely suspended, this workout included lots of kicks (check out my toe point), pulling yourself up the pole, traveling around the pole, and core work to the max.

Grande Finale-Combat Creations: Every year IAFC ends the conference with a grande finale aquatic class. The last hoorah before the attendees head home. I was honored to be selected to teach this grand finale aquatic kickboxing class with these top-notch presenters. From left to right: Joao from Portugal, Nino from Brazil, me , Silvia from Italy, and Rui from Portugal.

AEA will announce next year’s IAFC date and location on June 30th! You do not want to miss this event. Fun, friendship, education, and community - it’s what the IAFC is all about. Hope you’ll join me!


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